Emily Skerrett is a local girl with 2 small boys and a dream to compete at international and Paralympic level in dressage. She suffers from EDS (Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome) a debilitating and painful condition that means she can’t cover any distance unaided, can dislocate joints easily just by picking up her toddler for a cuddle and is in constant pain. Emily also suffers from a condition known as POTS that causes her to feel dizzy and tired a lot of the time and affects her blood pressure. Emily has recently undergone a total wrist fusion to stabilise her left arm, and walks with crutches or uses a wheelchair due to damage to her right leg.
Despite her disability Emily's talent for dressage has become clear since she started to train at Lakefield in Camelford with the Mark Cunliffe and the North Cornwall RDA. Her potential has been acknowledged by Clive Milkins an international para dressage coach, who has given her his support to Emily along with Pammy Hutton, trainer and international dressage competitor. It is clear that she has the desire and drive to compete at international level and with the right support she will achieve her goal of competing at a Paralympic games.
The courage and spirit that Emily shows has really inspired the local community to get behind her as she strives to show that being disabled should not be a barrier to achieving your goals and making your children proud. To get to the dressage events that will enable her to qualify for international level she needs financial support and that is what we are for and why we are asking for your help. Organising transport for her horse Woody and competing in qualifiers can cost as much as £500 per competition, so without support it is difficult for Emily to be able to enter enough competitions to be in with a chance of squad selection. Emily is incredibly motivated to succeed in her sport, and to represent Cornwall, and Great Britain and to increase awareness of her debilitating condition.
Her official campaign is launching on the 15th September at Lakefield, Camelford where we will also be holding an event to raise funds and awareness. Emily will be performing a dressage demonstration on her horse Woody.
"Emily and her horse have the X Factor...They have the talent, the ability and potential to go the very top" - Clive Milkins Fellow of RDA, paralympic coach
"Emily has been gaining very good scores, bringing herself to the forefront" - Mark Cunliffe, instructor Lakefield Equestrian Centre
What is Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome?
EDS is a genetic connective tissue condition that is a multi-systemic syndrome. Connective tissue covers over 95% of your body so there is little that escapes the symptoms.
Signs and symptoms vary from individual to individual and based on which type of EDS the patient has. In each case, however, the signs are ultimately due to faulty or reduced amounts of collagen. EDS typically affects the joints, skin, and blood vessels. Following is a list of major signs and symptoms.
Musculoskeletal: Hyper-mobile joints, unstable joints that are prone to sprain, dislocation, subluxation and hyperextension. Early onset of advanced osteoarthritis or chronic degenerative joint disease, Swan neck deformity of the fingers, Boutonniere deformity of the fingers, Tearing of tendons or muscles, Deformities of the spine, such as: scoliosis (curvature of the spine), kyphosis (a thoracic hump), tethered spinal cord syndrome, occipitoatlantoaxial hypermobility, Myalgia (muscle pain) and arthralgia (joint pain), which may be severe, Trendelenburg's sign, Osgood-Schlatter Disease
Skin: Fragile skin that tears easily, easy bruising, stretchy skin, unusual scarring, thin soft skin with a transluscent appearance.
Cardiovascular: Arterial rupture, mitral valvee prolapse, Dilation and/or rupture of ascending aorta, Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, Raynaud's Phenomenon
Other complications: Hiatial hernia, Nerve compression disorders (carpal tunnel syndrome, acroparesthesia, neuropathy), Insensitivity to local anesthetics, Arnold–Chiari malformation (brain disorder), Platelet aggregation failure (platelets do not clump together properly), Pregnancy complications, Sleep Apnea, gastroparesis
Sources: EDS Support Uk, Wikipedia
Who can compete in dressage at the Paralympics?
Five riders will compete for Great Britain at the Games; three or four riders make up the Team (four riders will compete for GB), with the final rider(s) riding as an Individual. Men and women compete against each other equally within their specific grades, with riders competing on their own horses as opposed to horses provided by the organisers.
At the Paralympic Games, all athletes compete in three Dressage tests: a Team Test, an Individual Championship Test and a Freestyle Test (where athletes choose their own routine and set it to their own choice of music).
The results of the Team and Individual Championship Tests are added together to arrive at the overall Team score, with the best three scores (from a team of four) counting. Individual medals are also awarded on the merit of both the Individual Championship Test and the Freestyle Test. All riders, whether competing in a Team or not, may ride in the Team Test.
Athletes are classified according to their functional ability when mounted across five grades (Ia, Ib, II, III and IV). The grading determines the complexity of the movements riders perform with their horses during their tests, ensuring that the tests are judged on the skill of the rider, regardless of their impairment. Riders may use permitted assistive devices such as dressage whips, connecting rein bars looped reins, and the like. Riders who have visual impairments are permitted to use ‘callers’ to help them navigate around the arena.
Source: British Paralympic Association
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